12 April 2012

Nigeria: UN Experts to Help Country, Others Improve Nutritional Devt

Some United Nations (UN) high-level officials tasked by the Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, with promoting good nutrition, have agreed to focus on ensuring that support to countries, including Nigeria, produces tangible results.

The group, which met Tuesday in New York, US, also agreed to ensure that resources for country-led actions are coordinated, aligned, transparent and accountable.

The first meeting of the Lead Group for the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement was chaired by the Executive Director of the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), Anthony Lake, and brought together 27 leaders of countries, organisations and sectors working to improve nutrition.

The group was appointed by the UN Scribe to serve as "strategic guides" for the SUN Movement, a global initiative that aims to improve maternal and child nutrition. Among the group's members are the leaders of Mozambique, Tanzania, Bangladesh, Namibia, Nepal and Nigeria.

"Never before have so many leaders, from so many countries and fields, agreed to work together to improve nutrition," said Ki-moon, adding that the SUN Movement gives everyone, including the UN, an opportunity to support countries in their efforts to end hunger and malnutrition.

The SUN Movement focuses on the critical 1,000-day window between pregnancy and a child's second birthday, when proper nutrition can mean the difference between health and sickness, life and death. Poor nutrition during this period can lead to stunted growth and impaired cognitive development, among other consequences.

"It is time to recognise nutritional status not only as a marker of progress in development, but also as a maker of progress - and a key to more sustainable development," said Lake.

"We must invest now in programmes to prevent stunting or risk diminishing the impact of other investments in education, health and child protection," he added.

So far 27 countries have joined the SUN Movement, with more set to join in the coming months.

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